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Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Still Exploring China


This time last year, we had just returned from our two-week adventure in China. Although a year has passed and we’ve been to other countries since, that visit still looms over us.
 
For one thing, I’m writing a novel set in many of the places we explored while there. For another, I’ve written a series of travel stories. Look for both to be published later this year.
 
Besides the writing, what did we do during our weeks exploring China? Figuring out where to begin can be as complicated as a Chinese puzzle box.
 
We began our time in Beijing. We strolled Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world. We explored the Forbidden City and visited the Imperial Palace. We danced and sang with the locals at the Summer Palace. A rickshaw ride through the Hutong brought us face to face with world-renowned Cricket Leo and lunch with his family (of people, birds, animals, and insects). And Beijing Zoo gave us a glimpse of the giant pandas.
 
Then we explored the original capitol of unified China, Xi’an, and it’s 5,000 year history. We marveled at the thick, 9-mile city wall, climbed the Drum and Bell towers, rang the prayer bell at Wild Goose Pagoda in Jianfu Temple, and took a crazy motorized rickshaw ride through heavy traffic going the wrong way into bus-filled round-a-bouts.
 
The Terra Cotta Army protecting China’s first emperor was impressive, being one of the greatest archeological finds of the 20th century. We even met one of the four peasants who discovered the warriors while digging a well.
 
Suzhou, the Venice of the East, saw us cruising along canals villages and admiring stone bridges and trees that touched the surface of the water. We walked ancient streets and took in the beautiful Lingering Garden. We even visited a farmer’s market with all sorts of livestock, from frogs and snakes to fish and goose. And we met a winemaker and sampled the rice wine of his 100-year old winery.
 
In Hangzhou, we cruised the West Lake, admired the Su Causeway and waterlogged pillars, and enjoyed some time at a tea plantation where we picked and tasted our own Longjing tea, watch it roasted in hot woks, and enjoyed a tea ceremony with the dragon-well tea so exclusive that it was once made only for the Emperor.
 
Shanghai surprises rounded out our trip with a skyline so amazing that it looked like something out of a futuristic movie. At the river, you could see the old European buildings at the Bund on one side, and the Pearl tower and futuristic skyscrapers in Pudong on the other. A ceremony was going on when we visited the Jade Buddha Temple. We hovered on the MagLev, climbed the JinMao Tower to stand next to the partially completed “second tallest building in the world,” explored Yu Gardens and Bazaar, explored the twisted side streets of the French Concession, enjoyed the Shanghai Museum, and even watched an ERA performance of Chinese acrobats.
 
What more did we do? A lot. We walked the Great Wall, one of the seven manmade wonders of the world. We visited a freshwater pearl factory, jade museum, silk factory, silk embroidery institute, Imperial Pharmacy of traditional Chinese medicine, and enjoyed lectures from experts on all of these.
 
My China-based travel stories are written, but I’m waiting to submit them after I finish my novel set in these and other exotic locations.
 
Dead and Buried is being published by Blue Heron Book Works later in 2015.
 
 

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